What Causes Diabetes?
Weight Loss, Physical Activity, and Quitting Smoking
Weighing in on Weight
Research has shown that decreasing calories, increasing physical activity and losing weight can lead to significant health improvements. Losing as little as 5 to 10 percent of your body weight and being active for 30 minutes, five days per week can help you:
– lower blood glucose and A1C levels.
– lower blood pressure.
– lower LDL (bad) cholesterol, increase HDL (good) cholesterol, and decrease triglycerides, the main part of fats and oils.
– decrease your need for diabetes, high blood pressure and blood lipid medications.
What’s a healthy weight for me?
A healthy weight for you should be one that supports the greatest degree of physical and emotional health. It is the weight at which you have the most energy and feel your best. And most important, it should be a weight that you can maintain realistically over the long term. It does little good to lose a great deal of weight, only to end up putting it all, or more, back on. Setting realistic goals for weight loss and maintenance is hard. But it’s an important step in achieving your weight goals and keeping the weight off. Be sure to speak with your health care provider to set the weight goal that is right for you.
Putting weight loss in its place
Research has shown that keeping blood glucose, blood pressure and blood fat (lipid) levels within your target range is what really matters most in staying healthy with diabetes. Weight loss is one of the most important tools to help you reach your goal of glucose, blood fat and blood pressure management. But losing weight is only part of the package.
Simply said, take steps to build a healthy lifestyle, such as increasing your physical activity and choosing to eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains. These actions can improve blood glucose, blood pressure and heart health and can promote weight loss and maintenance.
Steps for success
Here are some tips from the National Weight Control Registry to help you on your way. The NWCR is a national database of information on 5,000 people who have lost weight and kept it off. On average, they have lost 60 pounds, and 16 percent have kept the weight off for more than 10 years.
– Keep on trying. More than 90 percent of people had lost and gained weight several times before successfully keeping the weight off.
– Change your eating and activity habits. Most people (89 percent) reported making significant changes in both eating and activity habits. Only 11 percent reported changing only eating or exercise habits.
– Consume fewer calories and fat. Women ate about 1,300 calories per day, and men ate 1,700 calories per day. Participants limited fat, ate about five times each day and had less than one meal per week in fast food restaurants.
– Physical activity. More than 80 percent of people who lost weight successfully burned 2,700 calories (women) to 3,500 calories (men) per week in exercise.
– Keep track. Most people monitored their weight and kept food and activity records. About half of all those who successfully lost weight still kept records two to six years after their initial weight loss.
DIABETES & SMOKING
Reviewed by Robert Ehrman, MD
Whether or not you have diabetes, smoking is the number one avoidable cause of death (in the US). Yet, nearly one out of every four American adults smokes.
Anyone who smokes for many years is at risk for lung cancer, heart disease, stroke, poor circulation and emphysema (trouble breathing). These problems occur because smoking cuts down on the amount of oxygen that reaches the tissues in your body. This lack of oxygen can cause steady damage to the body’s many organs and systems. Some research even suggests that smoking may add to the reasons a person gets type 2 diabetes in the first place.
People with diabetes are already at risk for all the smoking-related problems listed above. In addition, smoking when you have diabetes increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and poor circulation. Smoking also causes greater and faster damage to the blood vessels in the eyes, nerves and kidneys. These are the organs of the body that are often damaged from years of diabetes. That’s the bad news about smoking.
The “silver lining” to this cloud is that you can prevent smoking-related problems and even death by quitting smoking now (or not starting in the first place).
Another bit of good news: The health benefits of quitting smoking start right away and last forever. For example, just one year of not smoking cigarettes cuts the risk of heart disease in half.
Ways to Quit Smoking
If you’ve ever tried to quit smoking you know that it’s hard to do. That’s because when you smoke you become addicted to nicotine. In fact, most people have to try quitting a few times before they are able to quit for good.
There are many ways to quit smoking. Review these options. Also discuss your goal to quit smoking with your health care provider. Get his or her advice about the best way for you to quit. Then figure out what method or methods you believe will work for you.
- Quit smoking groups: Find a local group at the place you work, a local hospital or a local office of the heart, lung or cancer association.
- Quit smoking with a national program: Check out online internet programs or telephone hotlines. Search on the internet for “smoking cessation.”
- Use a smoking cessation medicine
- Work with a counselor: You might want to find a counselor to work with who helps people quit smoking. This person can help you learn to avoid behaviors and activities that trigger smoking. He or she might also use hypnosis or acupuncture to help lessen the craving to smoke.
Finally, hold on to this thought: Quitting smoking is one of the most important actions you can take to become and stay more healthy.